America Online (AOL) integrated a new messaging system into AOL Desktop software called AOL Instant Messenger (AIM). Since May 1997, AIM served as a communication platform for teenagers and adults alike. In today’s age of multiple social media platforms, however, AIM has fallen to the wayside in favor of user-friendly messaging platforms. According to businessinsider.com, usage of AIM dropped 73 percent from January 2011 to January 2012. This comes as no surprise to several former users of AIM.
“I used to use AIM to chat with my friends about Runescape when I was around 7 or 8 years old,” junior Doster Cohen said. “I didn’t have much experience with it since by the time I was older, Facebook Messenger and other social media had come around, and I honestly can’t believe that AIM is still around. It blows my mind.”
Junior Taylor Paden also recalls using AIM when she was younger, primarily to “pester her friends when she saw that they were online.” Paden also attributes AIM’s demise to the rise of different and more effective means of communication.
“I think that the reason most people have switched to things like texting to communicate is that texting is a much more reliable way to send messages,” Paden said.
Joanna Lemmons, administrative assistant to the deans in the Office of Student Life, began using AIM in middle school, but primarily used it in college.
“We didn’t get Facebook until my sophomore year of college,” Lemmons said. “We didn’t have smart phones. You could do video chat, but you had to have a separate webcam and it was a complicated process that usually didn’t have great connectivity … AIM was the first time you could really be in constant contact with someone without really being with them.”
Lemmons, who has not used AIM since 2008, credits the messenger with having cultivated her best friend while in college. She said that having a platform of constant communication helped them become such good friends.
AIM, while an important piece of technology, has been passed up by more effective platforms. However, this way of communicating will always be remembered by the people who used it in its prime as a benchmark for future platforms.